Our county’s economy

In his latest comment piece, Iain Nicholson on the state of our county’s economy.

Ask the question “how is Oxfordshire’s economy faring?” at any of the business networking events in OTCN and what do you get? Answer: it depends. On the one hand you have companies like motorsport and vehicle technologists Prodrive highlighting its need to recruit 100 engineers, and Berinsfield-based Williams Performance Tenders expanding production facilities and its team to meet a boom in the market for larger yachts. Oxfordshire has many more individual business success stories too. At the same time, you’ll hear words like ‘sluggish’ and ‘challenging’ used to describe the state of business. It’s why our friends in Oxfordshire business groups the CBI, IoD, FSB and Oxfordshire Chamber, and their organisations’ national colleagues, continue to lobby for action to boost the economy. This week has seen Oxfordshire IoD Chairman Ian Wenman saying the latest inflation figures kill any chance of an interest rate rise this year, and maybe for next year too. Meanwhile the Federation of Small Businesses has stepped up its campaign on bank lending. Its latest survey showed a third of members who approached a bank for credit were refused. The FSB says that’s the equivalent of 320,000 businesses in the last year that aren’t getting credit they need. Margaret Coles, for the FSB in Oxfordshire, says businesses are starting to think about expanding or buying new machinery and it’s really disappointing some have to abandon those plans because banks refuse to lend.
Both statements reflect challenges businesses still face and the importance of pressing for action on business support. Which leads back to the question: “how is Oxfordshire’s economy faring?” We’d love to hear a perspective from your Oxfordshire business. Let us know by email to business@youroxfordshire.co.uk

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